The Hardcore/Punk Guide To Christianity

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Wallow in faith’s insanity.” — Ulcer, “Morality”

Can you name all Ten Commandments from memory? (If not, what kind of Christian are you, anyway?) Can you name the First? The First Commandment is: “I am the Lord your God … You shall have no other Gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)

In other words, “Your first duty before all others (before loving your neighbors, before not lying or killing or stealing or anything) is to obey Me or else.” Is anyone surprised? What else could the First Commandment possibly be? What could possibly be more important in any religion besides total submission to the Creator of the Universe, the Deity, the Father, the Master? Isn’t that the “original sin,” the whole reason that God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden — because of disobedience?

Christian obedience to God includes obedience to his laws. But are Christians good people solely because they obey all of God’s laws?

Think about it. What sort of morality is it when you are not acting because you believe your action is right, but because someone has ordered you to act or face terrible punishment? Isn’t that what Christianity is doing — telling you to obey God or burn in hell for eternity? Are you moral if someone puts a gun to your head and commands you to perform acts that they label “moral” but which you really don’t want to perform?

Remember the Biblical story of Abraham, who was prepared to murder his own son simply because God ordered him to do it? What kind of morality is that — isn’t it always wrong to murder innocent people? Isn’t it especially wrong to murder your own children, who presumably trust you to protect them, not murder them? Isn’t is especially monstrous to test someone’s submission to your power by ordering them to murder a loved one? Doesn’t that sound like something a Nazi officer at a concentration camp would do?

In Christianity, the highest virtue is obedience to authority. Forget feeding the poor, clothing the naked, loving thy neighbor, and avoiding same-sex contact: if you fail to act as the perfect servant, you are doomed to an eternity in hell. How punk or hardcore is that? Do you question authority but make an exception for religious authority?

This is why Friedrich Nietzsche called Christianity a slave religion, because the first law of both Christianity and slavery is obedience to the master. If you were a slave, then no matter how hard you worked, how many hours you spent toiling, or how much money you made for your master, it meant nothing if you were disobedient. And if you are a Christian, then no matter how much you tithe, how many souls you save, or how few sins you commit, you are doomed to the lake of fire if you fail to obey.

The slave analogy is especially appropriate considering the many times when the Christian Bible urges slaves to obey their masters, such as Titus 2:9-10, Ephesians 6:5-7, 1 Peter 2:18. Perhaps this is because that even God understands that the slave is analogous to the perfect believer and should be considered an example for true Christians to follow.

Many Christians may argue that obedience to God isn’t a bad thing — because God is love and only wants the best for all of us. It’s like obeying our parents or obeying your spouse, they say, because you trust God and his rules. But God has many fucked-up rules and atrocious commands for humanity (see section 6 and section 8). Are you moral if you are obeying immoral rules? According to Christian doctrine, you are. If God commands you to kill — whether it’s a stranger, your child (born or unborn!), your parents, your teacher, or your best friend — then your act of murder is perfectly moral within the Christian purview, because the ultimate author of Christian morality is God. Whatever he says, goes — he makes the rules, and as long as you obey them, you are a good Christian. To return to the slave analogy, you are a good slave as long as you obey your master’s commands, no matter how ridiculous they are. And to make another point: you could have the kindest slavemaster in history, but does that make your slavemaster a moral person? Is it ethical to own slaves and command them to do your bidding? To (over)extend the analogy, what if you are an extremely powerful scientific genius who raises his own human slaves from the petri dish — is it still ethical for you to own those living, thinking, feeling slaves? Even if your slaves love you? How about if they worship you?

In addition, Christianity makes it especially easy for the ultimate divine authority of God to be extended to human authority figures, such as parents (remember the Seventh Commandment, “Honor thy father and mother”), priests, preachers and ministers, as well as secular authority figures. Titus 3:1 says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work.” Does that sound very punk or hardcore to you? (And no, it’s not taken out of context; most of Paul’s letter to Titus is about dealing with earthly obligations and codes of behavior, not ways of serving God. Read it.) If your pastor asked you to burn your Hydra Head CDs, would you do it? What if the Pope asked you to throw away your Victory fashion accessories? How about if your parents wanted you to get rid of your Fat Wreck Chords stuff? According to most Christian sects, if you fail to obey earthly authorities — parents, teachers, preachers, cops — then you are spitting directly in the face of God. Does that sound very punk rock or hardcore to you?